As the Stab Burns: Denice Duff

Published November 23, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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And she thought Anders Hove was bad!

Fans of Full Moon’s Subspecies would probably nominate Denice Duff’s sensitive (yet provocative) Michelle as their favorite vamp in that horror fantasy series. But Duff, currently, is receiving intense focus of another kind as Wendy on NBC’s Days of Our Lives. A concerned midwife, Wendy has recently been taken hostage by the increasingly psychotic Ben who, seemingly, plans to make her deliver his fiancé’s premature baby in woodsy, less than ideal circumstances.

Denice 3Of course Duff, whose terror credits include The Monster Man, Straun House (AKA Dr. Rage), Night of the Living Dead 3D: Reanimation and Vampire Resurrection (which she, also, directed), has been dealing with dubious gents for years now. Therefore, her calm yet frightened demeanor here not only signifies her wide acting range, but also allows hope that Wendy and her new found charge, Abigail, will most likely make it out of this situation alive.

Of course, there is only one way to find out for sure, and that is to simply tune in tomorrow!

More info on Duff can be gathered at Days episodes are available for viewing at

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!


Music to Make Horror Movies By: Elke Sommer

Published November 22, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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The luscious Elke Sommer battled monstrous creeps and dodgy American editors in such Bava classics as Baron Blood, Lisa and the Devil (and its stateside reworking) The House of Exorcism. But according to one of the numbers on her euro-soaked MGM album, Love in Any Language, nothing haunted our fair lass more than unrequited love.

While it’s hard to believe anyone could deny this German born cupcake anything, one listen to her mournfully acknowledging I Know You Don’t Want Me – and you know it has to be true. elke album cover

La sigh!

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!


Horror, She Wrote: Sandahl Bergman and Sally Kellerman

Published November 20, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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Horror, She Wrote explores the episodes of the ever-popular detective series Murder, She Wrote, featuring Angela Lansbury’s unstoppable Jessica Fletcher, that were highlighted by performances from genre film actors.

Oh, creativity – that ever elusive muse. Even Angela Lansbury’s ever resilient mystery writer Jessica Fletcher must have sipped from an ever emptying cup of ideas every once in awhile!

But, in The Petrified Florist, a fun Season 9 episode of the redoubtable series, Fletcher lets the dizzying participants of a Los Angeles dinner party serve as inspiration for her latest unexpected thriller. Jet lagged, this well loved character falls into a dream-tale involving the murder of a flamboyant botanic renegade. Soon, Wizard of Oz style, her friends and acquaintances are given flowery motivations and all are, eventually, blooming with suspicious activity. Horror 4

The guest cast, this time, features Sandahl Bergman and Sally Kellerman, two distinguished performers who, also, lit up plenty of exploitation fare. Bergman, whose involvement with Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz, highlighted her beauty and grace, also, went on to be acknowledged as a foremost action star due to her participation in Conan the Barbarian and the fun Hell Comes to Frogtown. Her elastic physicality and forceful presence, also, lent much to her appearances on such shows as Swamp Thing and Freddy’s Nightmares and in such glorious cable and video store treasure as Programmed to Kill and the thriller Raw Nerve (featuring the legendary Glenn Ford and the iconic Traci Lords). Kellerman’s clipped and emphatic delivery, meanwhile, imbued such comedies as MASH, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins with silken archness. But her sly mannerisms, also, made her perfect for the mysterious activity and outright villainy of such 90s exploitation efforts as Doppelganger (with Drew Barrymore), Mirror Mirror II: Raven Dance (with Roddy McDowall) and Drop Dead Gorgeous (AKA Victim of Beauty).

Horror 3She plays into that acidic type with Junie Cobb, her impervious gossip maven here. As her character is threatened with the reveal of an affair, Kellerman double crosses and denies like she has just been outfitted with a pair of Barbara Stanwyck heels, proving, once and for all, that nobody should mess with a blonde with experience!

Bergman is having the most fun, though. Honing in on title’s none too so subtle take on the famous play (made movie) The Petrified Forest, she supplies what is most enjoyably theatrical about this episode. As Daisy Kenny, a police officer with dreams of a show business career, Bergman is eager and enthusiastic, showing her versatility as a performer. Self assured but far from the snarly kick-asses of her action pieces, this veteran performer shows she has a way with comedy – and the collar. Disguising herself as a blackmailing maid, Daisy helps Fletcher finally catch the backtracking Kellerman and proves that the character’s upcoming take on Miss Jean Brodie would be something that no true fan would ever want to miss.

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Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!


Blacula and the 1970s Gay Male

Published November 19, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

Blacula 5Some gays just can’t catch a break. They move into a neighborhood, fix it up and then are forced out when prices rise. Or like Blacula’s Bobby (the fluid Ted Harris) and Billy (an almost appropriately exaggerated Rick Metzler), they rescue a monster from centuries of imprisonment…and are, ultimately, killed for their troubles.  As purchasers of the estate of the notorious Dracula, these two interior decorators break the seals to the coffin of Mamuwalde (the Shakespearian William Marshall), one of the count’s erstwhile victims, and find themselves on the receiving end of his long delayed, very toothy hunger.

Blacula 4Soon, Mamuwalde is making a banquet out of a sassy female cab driver (the animated Ketty Lester) and buxom bar paparazzi like Nancy (the gorgeous Emily Yancy). Of course, his main attention is given to the beautiful Tina (a straight forward Vonetta McGee) whom he believes to be the reincarnation of his lost love. As her sister Michelle (the voluptuous, no nonsense Denise Nicholas) and her pathologist boyfriend, Dr. Thomas (an authoritative Thalmus Rasulala), begin to suspect that a vampire might be prowling the streets of Los Angeles; Tina falls further under Mamuwalde’s spell. Thomas and a police lieutenant (a flustered Gordon Pinsent) eventually track Mamuwalde to the warehouse where Tina is accidentally killed. Naturally, the terminally romantic, totally distraught Mamuwalde decides that he can’t live without her and allows himself to be burned up by the sun’s destructive rays, proving, with fiery impact, that heterosexual love has its downfalls, as well.

Blacula 2This classic example of blaxploitation made sweet with the money, spawning a sequel the following year, but it is, also, redolent with that era’s hatred and ignorance towards the queer community. Even the hero of the piece refers to Bobby and Billy as “two faggot interior decorators” and when the undead Bobby begins scouring the streets for necks to chew on, the police men trailing him, also, refer to him as a “fag” and remark on how all homosexuals look alike. Thankfully, the fact that this movie was made 43 years ago lends these comments an almost historical quality. Prejudice like this is definitely present today, but not often in such a focal quantity (especially in urban environments), and that, along with the film’s mention of Black Panther activity, its leveled looks at urban decay, and its music and costumes, give it a surprising social perspective. (Although, the fact that campaigns like “Black Lives Matter” are of vital importance today and that the transsexual community is under an ever present threat of violence proves how prescient this piece is, as well.)

Blacula 3Granted, one could imagine film historian Vito Russo, who examined the treatment of the GLBT community in film in such respected tomes as The Celluloid Closet, taking umbrage with Billy and Bobby’s stereotypical limp wristed antics. While actors Harris and Metzler definitely embrace the lighter sides of this duo’s personalities, it is, perhaps, just as significant to note that writers Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig, also, show some acceptance for that effeminacy, as well. Tina and Michelle are first introduced as they visit Bobby at the funeral home and make preparations to offer comfort to his grieving mother. This shows that Bobby, in particular, had a nonjudgmental community of family members to support him despite his perceived difference. It’s a small moment in the film, but pays homage to the characters’ real life counterparts whose kindness and strength meant the world to lavender blessed men and women the in those perilous decades and is still a comfort to many outsider types in too many parts of the world, today.

Blacula and its sequel Scream Blacula Scream were recently released in (crystal clear) remastered versions (with special features including interviews, commentary and photo galleries) by Scream Factory. More information is available at and

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Tell Tale Hearts

Published November 7, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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I used to catch hell from my mother when she found out that I showed the kids in the neighborhood bra ads from her bath soaked Glamour Magazine. So, do you think I’m letting her know about Tell Tale Hearts: Four Films of Love and Death, Elevated Film Chicago’s upcoming celebration of the more twisted side of relationships and day-to-day life? F—k no!!! The rest of the world, however, is hereby being put on call!

This dark evening of short films, featuring Spencer Parsons’ BITE RADIUS, Jennifer Reeder’s SEVEN SONGS ABOUT THUNDER, Judd Myers’ SON, and Harrison Atkins’ CHOCOLATE HEART, will be presented at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark in Chicago, on Tuesday, November 10th. I have been assured, by those closest to the insanity, that this stand-out presentation will contain lots of gore, nudity and (gulp)…directors’ Q and A’s!

So, what are you waiting for? Get your tickets and/or more information at and

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

The Visit’s Deanna Dunagan: Full Circle Fairy Tales

Published November 6, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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The popularity of films like Insidious: Chapter 3 and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit have signaled a wonderful trend in genre pictures. These box office successes have revolved around characters like Lin Shaye’s Elise and Deanna Dunagan’s Nana, powerful females who are well above the age of first communion celebrations and tender coming out parties. These women have been complex and vibrant and, in the case of Dunagan’s Nana, believably deadly. Thankfully, Dunagan, a powerhouse veteran of the Midwest theatrical trenches, recently took a moment to speak with me about her career and some of her reactions to making The Visit. A Tony Award winner for her powerful performance of Violet in Tracy Letts’ acclaimed August: Osage County, Dunagan, also, shares her joy over her current role in a revival of Scott McPherson’s contemporary classic Marvin’s Room. McPherson, an activist and actor, was one of the many prominent and important artists to die from AIDS in the 90s. The endurance and hopeful strength that many of those first victims needed to survive in those black days is reflected a bit in his creation of Aunt Ruth, the sunny role that Dunagan so brightly ignites.

BGHF: Let’s start from the beginning, Deanna! You grew up in a small town in Texas. How did you get involved in theater?

Deanna Dunagan: Well, I spent my childhood getting the kids together and putting on plays. In West Texas there was not much theater to be found. But for some reason, from my early childhood, I knew about plays. I put them on. I don’t really know how that happened. We had a Town Hall series that came through. There were magicians, hypnotists and speakers and I guess they had plays, occasionally. But from a very early age, I was really aware that was what I wanted to do. Being from West Texas, I didn’t think I had a shot at it. I thought you had to be a star or be in the movies or be on Broadway to be an actor. How would I ever get there from Monahans, Texas? It seemed impossible. But I actually think I was destined to do this. From my earliest memory, that’s what I wanted to do. First when I was little, I would make up the plays or we would do fairy tales. But then in junior high, I would find a script in a book, somewhere. I’d get the kids together and we’d rehearse on our own. I’d go to the principal and say, “We have a play to put on! Can we put on our play?” They’d have an assembly and we’d put on our play. I made opportunities to do that all through my growing up years. I really think that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

BGHF: I think anyone who has seen you in any of your roles can attest to that. Currently, your Aunt Ruth in Shattered Globe’s revival of Marvin’s Room is such a delight!deanna marvin's room

DD: I haven’t played anyone like her since my ingénue days. She is just totally loving and trusting. She’s without a mean bone in her body. She’s just the most lovely, sweet lady that you can ever imagine and she has endured so much in her life. Yet, she has nothing but love. It’s a welcome part. I love being her. She’s, also, very funny. I don’t think that I’d love it if she weren’t funny – it might get very boring. But she’s very fun.

BGHF: It’s, also, allowed you to work with your long time collaborator and another prominent woman in Chicago theater – director Sandy Shinner.

DD: She was my very first contact here in Chicago. We’ve remained friends. I’ve done 7 plays with her. There came a time at Victory Gardens when there just weren’t roles for me or I was busy. So, we didn’t work together for awhile. But we were always friends.

BGHF: I need to ask you about a more obscure role now. Do you recall working with David Hedison (The Fly) in the 80s crime thriller The Naked Face?

DD: Yes! Yes!

BGHF: I remember my whole family settling down to watching that on cable, one Saturday night!

DD: You’re kidding! I was his wife! That was interesting. I got that role because I dressed correctly for the part. Bryan Forbes, who was the director and a wonderful guy, came to audition in Chicago. He had been out in L.A. auditioning. He was appalled at the way people came in – torn blue jeans and t-shirts. I was auditioning to play a doctor’s wife, so I came in dressed the way that I thought a doctor’s wife would be appropriately dressed. (Laughs) I think that’s why I got the role! I had a couple more scenes. The other scenes I had wound up on the cutting room floor, unfortunately. That movie was long, anyway. But, that’s so funny that you know that movie! Not many people do!

BGHF: I loved that movie. Roger Moore released his memoir, a number of years ago, so I went back and re-watched it then.

DD: He was so funny. He was the loveliest man. Of course, I was nobody, but I was supposed to be his sister-in-law. So, the director would yell, “Cut!”, and Roger would, immediately, say, “Do you know the one about the Irish Man?” (Laughs) He was, constantly, entertaining us with funny stories and jokes. He was a very nice man.

Film Review The VisitBGHF: Well, you definitely have much more of a presence in The Visit, for which all the fans are grateful. In particular, you do such calibrated work as Nana, telling that spookily beautiful story to Becca (Olivia DeJonge), as she’s being interviewed by her.

DD: It’s so interesting. One of my agents wrote me this morning to tell me that he finally saw The Visit. He mentioned that scene. I was gratified that he picked that out.

BGHF: It was beautiful work. There definitely wasn’t anything staged or over the top with it.

DD: Thank you. I loved that. I believe that is among some of the best work that I’ve ever done, actually. It equals other work I can think of — like in August or Desire Under the Elms or The North China Lover. There was this fairy tale quality about the story she told. Of course, it was a horrific story about her murdering her children; putting them in the pond, in the suitcase. I assume she put them in there, alive, which is even more horrifying. In her madness, she thought that was the way to save them. That they were in danger and putting them in the pond would ensure that they would get to the other planet and be saved. She told the story as if it were a fairytale and then only broke down at the end. Night wrote a beautiful scene. It was a beautiful piece of writing. It was very complicated, interesting… I really got into that.

BGHF: It, also, brought you full circle, in way. You started out, as a young girl, bringing fairytales to the stage and years later, you deliver one, so beautifully, on screen.

DD: Yes. (Laughs) That’s right! That’s right! That’s interesting!

BGHF: Was The Visit another surprise for you? In 2008, you won the Tony…and now the lead in this popular film?deanna august

DD: (Laughs) Well, the Tony was just impossible. It would be like winning the Academy Award. I never even thought of it. I would have thought I had given any possibility of that up when I left New York and came to Chicago. I never thought about it – ever! I watched the Tony Awards on TV, like everybody else. It never occurred to me that I would win a Tony. As for The Visit, I remember my agent saying, “This may have a cult following.” But, it never occurred to me that it would become so popular. It really is an ensemble film. I didn’t feel like I was starring in it. Kathryn Hahn is so well known. She has a series and has done some pretty big films. All the pre-publicity was saying that it starred Kathryn Hahn. So, I didn’t think that I would be particularly noticed. When anybody asked me, I said that it really starred the kids. It was the kids’ story.

BGHF: The kids are wonderful, but so many of the fans believe that Nana really is the standout. I remember reading press that mentioned that you and Kathryn Hahn as the focal points.

DD: That was after it was released. It was interesting. I think in the New York Times that they did a paragraph about Kathryn and how she reminded them of Karen Black. Do you remember Karen Black?

BGHF: Oh, yeah! I loved her.

DD: Then they mentioned me with Peter. The major press really didn’t give Nana much love. But the minor press and the bloggers have loved Nana.deanna dunagan

BGHF: I’m not surprised. They’re the true voice of the public. It, also, shows that audiences crave more strong female characters – of all ages! What an honor that you are such a prime representation of that!

DD: You know I once went away from the theatre. I went to Mexico to write my thesis on costume design. I fell in love with a bullfighter and I was going to stay down there. But people kept calling me. The Dallas Theatre Center was doing The Apple Tree. They couldn’t find anybody, so I came back and auditioned. It was being directed by Lee Theodore, who was the original Anybodys in West Side Story. So, I did that and then I went back to Mexico. Then I got hired by The Globe of the Great Southwest in Odessa, TX. They asked me to come back and do Lady Macbeth. I went and did that. I would try to go away from it. I fully intended to marry my bullfighter and live in Mexico. I was doing a lot of singing down there with my guitar. But theater kept on calling me back. It was the universe. I fully believe that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.

The Visit, which is still doing the rounds of various theaters, will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 5th, 2016. For Midwest residents, Marvin’s Room will continue its justifiably acclaimed run until November 14th at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, in Chicago. More information can be gathered at

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

In A Queer Eye: Dawn of the Dead’s Scott and Roger

Published October 30, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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When do your heroes become idols? Sometimes, it is when you realize how ahead of their time that they really were.

Such is the case, for me, with George Romero, who is, widely and justifiably, acclaimed for the glints of social awareness that permeate his pieces. His fantastical 1981 drama Knightriders even contained a very happy and well adjusted gay couple among the central dueling, roustabout characters in that very personal epic.

But a look at his 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead shows that Romero may have been flirting around with the idea of a queer couple even earlier. As his four main characters escape a zombie threat by taking refuge in a shopping mall, Romero soon pairs his protagonists off into definitive couples. Newshounds Stephen (David Emge) and Francine (Gaylen Ross) – who are expecting a child together- are most certainly an item, presenting all the mood swings and expected tenderness that living in such a barren world would bring. But, through editing and mood, Romero craftily presents soldiers-of-fortune Peter (Ken Foree) and Roger (Scott Reiniger) as their own special kind of duo, and for my money, they are representative of the ultimate in film bro-mances. Roger’s death scene, in particular, seems indicative of a supposition that, with time, the very masculine team’s relationship might have gone further, if the future had been kind to them. Infected by a zombie, Roger breathes his last, with Peter by his side. In fact, as death overtakes him, Roger’s hand, tenderly, falls onto Peter’s chest, establishing, forever, their concrete connection.

Of course, I’m not assuming in the least, that there was anything sexual in the very fine portrayals of Foree and Reiniger. But, the fact that they completely allow their characters’ love and devotion for each other to shine through, ultimately, makes them one of my favorite horror film twosomes.

Besides, couldn’t you just imagine Romero, with a devious twinkle in his eyes, subtly implying, in post production, that all was not as it seems with these hardy warriors in such an apocalyptic scenario?

As a quick postscript, the truly friendly Reiniger, recently, chatted with me about working with Foree and Romero in this quick and lively interview.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!


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